NFL players are kneeling, standing, sitting maybe, and probably laying down at times. Perhaps they are protesting police killings, or maybe they hate America, and some of them are very patriotic and do or do not support Donald Trump. I don't know. Who cares?
How many headlines has this stupid manufactured controversy taken up? How many arguments and fights have ensued? Do people even know what they are arguing over?
North Korea is shooting missiles, and Trump is calling Kim Jung Un Rocket Man. Okay, this one seems a little more relevant to my life. I don't want to be blown up. But is there anything I can do to stop Kim Jung Un or Trump from doing what they are doing? Is my worry going to solve anything?
Those are the big ones in the news right now, but there is still the usual cocktail of crime, death, and fear. And don't get me wrong, it is great to stay up to date with what is going on. Knowing what crazy actions the Federal Reserve is going to take can help you protect your finances. Being aware of government abuses can help you steer clear of becoming a victim. Understanding what laws and regulations coming down the pipe can allow you to make a decision about how to structure your life to avoid the brunt of it.
But the big headlines, the "news" that is shoved down our throats doesn't actually have to do with real life. It is all distraction. The news is just full of memes meant to elicit an emotional response and corral our behavior into one of a few pre-determined pens.
If you want the best dissection of cultural memes, watch South Park. Last season, in one episode the NFL announcers told fans and players to stand for the national anthem–or sit, or kneel–in order to show their support. Problem solved.
This season has shown the President taunting North Korea with tweets. Parodying distracted driving, the show urges, "if you are suddenly elected president, please put down your phone."
Over the course of 20 years, almost 300 episodes of the crude politically incorrect cartoon have torn apart the mainstream popular culture. Almost invariably when I am discussing some popular issue, a scene from South Park comes to mind.
The creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, are particularly adept at calling out when people are being preoccupied with things that don't really matter at all.
In an old episode where medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado, Randy Marsh purposely gives himself cancer in order to get a permit to smoke weed. "Can we just skip all this and legalize it?" he asks towards the end of the episode.
In another, the people of South Park are powerless to resist a WalMart that has come to town. They conclude that WalMart must possess some otherworldly power of manipulation. The only solution is to burn it down–rather than simply stop shopping there.